Deferral Stipend, Start Dates

DLA Piper Defers Half the Class of 2010 to 2012

DLA Piper recently rejoined the ranks of Biglaw firms paying a $160,000 starting salary. Welcome back to the pack. Unfortunately, some incoming associates hoping to start at DLA will have to wait quite a bit before they are able to cash in on that $160K dream. A tipster reports:

DLA Piper just told their incoming first years (i.e., the people who graduated in May 2010) about their start dates. A few months ago they told everyone that they’d either be starting in January 2011 or January 2012, but didn’t state who would be starting when, how many people they expected to start on either date, or any other specific information.

They made the calls [yesterday] and almost everyone is deferred until January 2012. They said they “expected” to give a stipend of $5k a month for pro bono work but didn’t definitively confirm anything.

Well, DLA Piper has now provided information about the situation to Above the Law. All of these kids — who summered with DLA Piper in 2009 — knew there was a possibility of getting deferred until 2012. But only half of them actually will. The rest will start relatively on-time…

A spokesperson for DLA Piper emphasized to Above the Law that half of the class of 2010 will at least be able to start with the firm in January 2011:

DLA Piper expects more than 70 associates to join the firm in January, 2011. The class includes the remaining 2008 summer class (2009 JDs), as well as half of the members of the 2009 summer class (2010 JDs).

Associates deferred beyond January, 2011 will be offered a variety of Fellowship opportunities across the country, developed with our outstanding Pro Bono Department. The Fellowships will begin in January and Fellows will receive a $5,000 monthly stipend.

Well, that half of the 2010 incoming class doesn’t really have any problems. It’s kind of shocking, but if you look at a calendar you’ll see that January 2011 is just around the corner. These kids will be starting just a few months later then the “normal” fall start date for the class of 2010.

For the other half, it’s going to get a little tough. But as they wait out their year, they should take heart that the firm did in fact find a place for all of its class of 2009 associates. The kids from that class who haven’t already started will finally be able to get their careers off the ground in 2011. DLA is extending the same commitment to this group of deferrees:

[T]he firm’s offer letter to the 2009 summer class stated that decisions on timing would be made based on the “economic climate and our workforce needs between now and January, 2011.” While every deferred associate will not be offered a position starting next January, DLA Piper has made a commitment to the entire class, and each will be offered a position at the firm. Every JD 2009 who was deferred to a Fellowship will start on January 2011, if they have not done so already, so we have honored our commitment to each one. The firm will provide the same support and commitment to the JD 2010s who are being deferred.

Yeah, just in case you thought this whole deferral option was a thing of the past, it’s really not. There are still incoming students all across the country wondering if and when they’ll be able to work the Biglaw job they were promised long ago. We’re not there yet, but at some point deferrals could become “the new normal.”

But hopefully that won’t happen. Good luck deferred DLA pipers and pipettes.

Earlier: DLA Piper and the Long Road Back to $160K

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